Leaked photos of Ice Cream Sandwich running on a Nexus S phone have cropped up today. Assuming they're legit (they seem to be), they are our first look at the Android OS that Google says will unify the UI between phones and tablets. The major changes we can see so far include a new, reorganized dock on the main home screen, folders for apps that show stacked icons for their contents, an app launcher with a tab for widgets on the phone, and a slightly reorganized notification bar. Apparently we can also expect a more persistent Google search bar at the top, a new skin for the Gmail app, and panorama mode in the Camera app.
If these screen shots are any indication of what the final product will look like, we are definitely looking at an iteration of the Android aesthetic and UI instead of a major change. That's no surprise -- Google itself said that the "holographic" look and feel found in Honeycomb would be making its way into Ice Cream Sandwich. Supposedly the release is set to follow Google's habit of partnering with a manufacturer for the initial release of a major Android update. Which is to say it should come first on the "Nexus Prime," a rumored device that most think is going to be a monster of a phone.
So far ICS is looking like a relatively small, iterative update -- but at least it will finally unify the UI between phones and tablets. That should free up Matias Duarté (the Director of Android User Experience) to try something a little more ambitious next time.
Grab a few more shots at the source links.